Dec 13, 2013

Defence-heavy spy committee needs to demand answers

The parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing sensitive intelligence agencies has finally been picked. It's heavy on Defence and DFAT types, so will it do its job properly?

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor


Independent MP and intelligence whistleblower Andrew Wilkie has been forced off the re-established Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, which is set to be dominated by former military and foreign affairs personnel. Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has also missed out in favour of Labor backbencher Joe Ludwig.

The committee is a statutory body established under the Intelligence Services Act with a membership limited to 11, split 6/5 between MPs and senators. It oversees intelligence agencies that for national security reasons can’t be subjected to public scrutiny like normal public service agencies. Liberal backbencher Dan Tehan will chair the committee, while former Labor chair Anthony Byrne will be deputy chair.

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8 thoughts on “Defence-heavy spy committee needs to demand answers

  1. klewso

    Great. “Chuckles” Ludwig, after his reaction on TV to the treatment of live cattle, has been picked to play with this sensitive issue now?

  2. AR

    Perhaps Ludwig could get a decent tailor before the next sitting? I grew so irritated watching his nervous tic of shooting his cuffs every two or three seconds.
    Remember this was the dill who once chaired an Estimates hearing into the AFP and seemed to believe that his role was to run interference to protect Negus from any question more complex than “what is your name?”
    Wilkie’s eschewing of regret is a good acknowledgement of what a waste of time it will be to “oversight” Intelligence. Members would be more productively employed picking oakum.

  3. zut alors

    Joe Ludwig? A member of a committee with ‘intelligence’ in the title? Give me strength.

  4. Rod Marr

    “The Labor manoeuvring and the apparent desire of both sides not to surrender a spot to Wilkie ”

    Hmmm, don’t like the look of that. We can only hope this does n’t represent a bipartisan approach to the important decisions.

    Time will tell.

  5. bluepoppy

    The omission of Wilkie does suggest a more hard-line, non-questioning approach. These sort of committees need a mix of people to ensure overreach of national security doesn’t become the norm. The addition of Philip Ruddock does not bode well for greater transparency if he is still wedded to the sam pattern as Attorney-General under the Howard Government.

  6. AR

    I recall the Cadaver on a doco. in 2009 saying, with the nearest thing he could manage to a smile, apropo of another AFP tirumph in pinging a leaker, “the government does not direct the AFP..”
    Ummm, so they are a self propelled loose cannon? Or ‘canon’ under the Pell praesidium?

  7. Scott Grant

    If both sides were actively manoeuvering to exclude Andrew Wilkie, (assuming he wanted the job), it reflects very poorly on the honesty and integrity of both sides. Presumably the professional politicians cannot abide having to work beside an honest and decent man. And these people are in charge of our national security. God help us.

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